12 Things More Important Than Being in the Best Shape of Your Life

Fotolia_8429735_Subscription_L-194x130You know when people are about to turn 30, or 40 (or 50 for that matter), and they say, “This year, I want to be in the best shape of my life!”? I know I said it when I was turning 30…

What is that about, anyway?

It seems like many people with that goal are trying to prove they aren’t getting older. In hindsight, I probably need to admit that’s what I was doing. Like, “See! It’s just years! But really I am traveling BACK in time to back when I was in better shape than I am now…but even better than that, ya know?”

So they end up striving for – and maybe even achieving – that level of fitness. People can definitely achieve that goal – Supah Fit {Older-But-Improved} Badass. I remember a coach at a public school in Menlo Park, CA who ran a mile for every year of his life on his birthday. Yes, that means he ran further as he got older, and that guy was up to 62 miles or something when I last heard. That just seems mean – to your body.

But then what? What happens one you’ve arrived at that goal, if you ever do? Usually people aren’t able to sustain it at that level. It takes effort of epic proportions to travel back in time. And they are still 30, 40 or 50 anyway. In the end, you do get older, and your body can only take so many miles before your knees hurt, carry so many packs before your back aches or your muscles get strained. It’s part of this being-born-in-a-body thing. There’s only so much we can do. Sigh…

Having said that, you can feel great as you get older. That is a given, and it’s why I do yoga and move and treat my body well. But it seems that it really shouldn’t be about being in the best shape OF YOUR LIFE.

I heard humans may soon live to 120 or something. That means people will be playing this game in their 70s at some point. Seriously, peeps?

I understand the desire to have a fire lit under you to get in shape if you’ve let things slide. Most people move less when they are older because there are more things they have to do than go out and adventure and move – like clean the gutters, call insurance companies, mail packages, drive the kids to soccer practice or go to work and be inside for 1/3 of the day. In our earlier years we could play a lot more, and that kept us in better shape by default. Plus with increased stress we eat like crap and our body stores fat more easily, which doesn’t help the situation of not moving much.

BUT, if you’re one of those who wants to be in the best shape of your life, I challenge you to look at that goal from a different angle. For most, it doesn’t seem filled with much self love. It seems filled with criticism of who they are right now. That whomever they are right now is not enough.

And that is bad juju. Again, I am not saying to NOT have that goal, but rather I ask that you really look at the motivation behind it, because if you don’t have the self-love and self-ACCEPTANCE yet, nothing is going to make you feel better about yourself in a sustainable way.

Anywhooo…I almost fell into that trap. Hell, I used to be a climbing guide. I have that complex every freakin’ YEAR!

I actually had the time to achieve the best-shape-of-my-life goal this year. I only work 1/2 the year. And I live in Alaska where adventures and workouts – and the adrenaline freaks who egg you on – abound. But then guess what? I realized that turning 40 meant more to me than being in the best shape of my life. And I gave myself permission to feel that way.

I realized I have earned the wisdom to let go of all the crap that used to hold me back (yes, even after ALL this work, I still manage to get in my own way sometimes;), AND I earned the wisdom to want the things that will TRULY make me happy. Not just those things that prove I can travel back in time and beyond and have some mega-bod.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ff00ff”]Here is what I’ve learned to want more than that[/typography] , because these things give me more FREEDOM – and that is what we’re all on this blog for, right?

1. Total love and acceptance of our body and of our being, who you truly are, the woman you’ve become, the mistakes you’ve made and the love you have shared. Your bitch-slap mode. All of it. Acceptance does not mean settling, though! (More on that another time) Letting go of guilt and Saying “No” falls under this as well. Guilt is a big freakin’ waste of time! Trust me. Don’t even argue. And when you can say “No” as part of loving yourself, no guilt is necessary. In fact, saying “No” helps you be more available and present to the things that really matter to you – like the people you love. So when you say no, it means you have more energy to say “Yes!” to something else.

2. Clarity and Ditching “Maybe.” If it isn’t a “Hell Yes!” it’s a “Hell No!” One of my coaches taught me this a LONG time ago. While it can be easy to turn away from things that obviously suck, it is much harder to walk away from a “Maybe.” Like a “maybe” relationship, or a job that “isn’t horrible,” for example. When we have clarity, what is a Hell Yes! to us becomes more obvious, as well as the Hell Nos! This makes decisions easier to make, and it is much more easy to flow into being in alignment in all parts of your life: your values, goals and dreams, the environment you are in, your career, your relationships…they are congruent with one another. This life alignment is what contributes to total and full happiness! And it starts with knowing what to say “Yes” to, and what to say “No” to.

3. Forgiveness Superpowers. The ability to forgive is so freeing! It pisses me off when I can’t forgive someone whom I know is truly sorry. This is a skill worth cultivating during your entire lifetime.

4. Low tolerance for toxicity  – Don’t put up with toxic people, places, thoughts, emotions, and things. I move away from these things more easily now.

5. Prioritizing my values and the people I love – and let the rest of life work its way around what is really important to me. When you prioritize the top 5-6 things that are truly important to you, you WILL have time for them all. Life will fall into place around it (read my blopost here about how to do this and why it’s completely true – I shizzle you not)

6. Healthy and passionate sex life. What can I say. It’s the glue that holds things together when the going gets tough. And when I don’t have that, I am in a very, very bad mood.

7. Connect with other people’s hearts, because otherwise I am pretty bored. I can go for a few months of just paying attention to myself, but eventually, I have to light up someone else’s life so that they can see how amazing it is to be ALIVE. Connecting with people authentically is a great way to light them up. Which brings me to my next point:

8. Authenticity as a mantra. This is me, baby. What you see is what you get. If I didn’t say I’m pissed at you, I’m not. If I say I am annoyed, you better believe it. If I say I love you, I mean it. I don’t throw that “love” phrase around. It means that in that moment, a huge welling up of love is happening, and I have to tell you or I just might explode. This authenticity means I cry easily sometimes. Well, a lot, actually. It means I cry when something is gorgeous, when something is devastating, when something is incredibly moving and blows my freakin’ mind. It means I laugh loudly and fully and you may want to wear earplugs. It means I am most honest with myself. (To get your Authenticity on, check out this month’s Jedi-Juice call).

9. Adventure and Freedom. Daily. I get bored otherwise. I can tolerate it coming every other day, but daily is ideal. That’s one of the reasons my soul mate is so amazing. He is pretty good at having adventures every day – big or small, inner or outer adventure – doesn’t matter to me. Just don’t let me get bored! And keep me excited and stimulated. Traveling is pretty good at fulfilling this need for me too;) And forget about having to ask permission to do things all the time. I want control over my time, money, and energy. I – like you – am a bona fide Freedom Junkie.

10. Movement and playing outside. More than being in the best shape of my life, I want to move. Move a lot. Play a lot. Move and play outside in the mountains, preferably. Move my body all sorts of ways, like when I do yoga, or do #6, or see a trail leading to somewhere new and I just need to peep around the corner…

11. Love fully, live compassionately. I sleep better that way. Live each day wanting others to be utterly ecstatic, and free from whatever is causing them suffering. Living compassionately means giving other the people the benefit of the doubt, even when it might be more convenient to chalking things up to them being an asshole. Trying to be joyful – instead of jealous – when someone manifests abundance in their life. This is part of becoming truly happy.

12. Healthy food and air and water and home. Because when I don’t have those things, I don’t have the energy to create all the things I’ve already mentioned above. It’s not about health – it’s about what health allows you to do! And be;)

Being fit is still important to me (that photo is me at 40! Heading off to climb the highest peak in Mongolia). But when I look at the milestone year of turning 40, it is not the utmost important thing on my list. And I certainly don’t feel the need to be more fit that when I was climbing mountains in the Himalayas. I’ve got some other mountains to climb.

If you still want to be in the best shape of your life, go right on ahead! I still exercise regularly and eat well and cleanse and work on my stress level … all that jazz. Just be sure to add some of the things I mentioned that may have resonated with you too, OK? It will be more…graceful that way. And be sure to love, LOve, LOVE who you are RIGHT NOW, no matter what. That’s the place to start.

What have you found to become more – and less – important to you as you’ve gotten older? Pray do tell below…


How to Make Sure You Don’t EVER Have The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

This is not a morbid discussion. Au contraire, mon amie – this is about LIVING fully, living with so much juice that you go to bed thinking, with a smile on your face, “If I died right now, I would have no regrets.” And you sleep wickedly well so you could have another awesome day tomorrow. This topic is far from being about death. It is about living life Full On.

I had a big wake-up call when I was diagnosed with cancer – twice. It made me rethink my priorities, assess my life, and dive into my soul to do some deep work. The clarity I received around having death approach me a little too close for comfort was exquisite. However, no matter how scary cancer might have been – and still is in many ways – it is nothing compared to actually dying, especially knowing you are dying. It also means that the clarity received while knowing you are dying is that much more vivid. And we should pay attention to that.

It’s not uncommon in Tibetan Buddhism to hear that we are all dying, actually – the process starts immediately after we are born. None of us know when we will die – we just know for sure that we will, no matter how much green juice we drink, or how mach safety gear we wear when we are out playing our extreme sports, or how many risky things we avoid. Still, it is often easy to forget about this (or ignore it).

As a society, we often avoid thinking about death so that we can pretend it won’t happen to us. We may think that by thinking about it, it will happen sooner. Or that if we don’t think about it, it won’t happen. Or that if we think about it, we’ll get all sad and depressed.

The goal of reflecting on death is NOT to get all nihilistic and say, “So what’s the point?” But in case you DO head down that path, the POINT, my dear badass, is to remember that this life is precious life, so we must live it balls-out, full on, with wild abandon, and honoring your heart and soul, celebrating this preciousness with others.

The goal of reflecting on the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying is to realize that THESE are the issues that become most important to you when you review your life, your accomplishments, your challenges. Take it from the people who have gone there – to death and beyond – and don’t wait to start addressing these things now.

In one of my last posts, I spoke about how change is a Universal Law. That totally applies here. Change – and its counterpart, impermanence – is the only constant. The only thing we know is that things change and don’t last, including us! So we need to use this realization NOT to bog us down, but to motivate us to get off our ass and head outside to gaze at the moon, and hell, howl at it while you’re at it!

The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying were recorded by Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse in Australia. She cared for people in the last 3 months of their lives, and suffice it to say, making more money, climbing Mount Everest, or having a threesome were NOT on the list. Look over these regrets and know that you want to do things differently right NOW, so you don’t have to worry about these.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

:: Freedom Junkie Antidote: Cultivate your Ziji (= radiant inner confidence!). Follow your dreams, GO FOR IT! Take care of your body so you are healthy enough to fulfill your dreams. It’s not about health – it’s about what health allows you to DO. Get clear about what is important to you and exactly how you want your life to be. If you don’t know where to start, download my free eBook, “The Freedom Junkie’s Ultimate Guide to Getting Clear” (you can find the form on the sidebar). When you are clear about what you want, it is much easier to cultivate the courage to do what it takes to get it;)

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

:: Freedom Junkie Antidote: This is most common with the breadwinners of a household. Make the time so you don’t miss your kid’s birthdays, milestones, and the precious smaller moments. Instead of saving up your vacation time for “one day, ” or worse yet, hoarding your vacation time for when you “might” get sick someday, take time to enjoy life! I love Tim Ferriss’ idea of taking mini-retirements and not waiting until you are 65+ to have any fun. Re-think about how you can simplify your life so you have more TIME instead of more STUFF. And when you have that time, use it to develop quality memories and experiences!

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

:: Freedom Junkie Antidote: Don’t suck it up just so you don’t rock the boat. If you don’t honor your needs, you will end up bitter and resentful and tolerating things instead of actively creating your life. While it isn’t useful to complain or bring people down, it is powerful to ask for what you want, make requests, and express yourself in a healthy way. Only then can others know what may be going on for you, and those who truly care about you will step up. Those who don’t? Move on.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

:: Freedom Junkie Antidote: We are social beings, and people with a strong sense of community are happier AND live longer. We all know how wonderful it feels to be acknowledged for who we are, and it can sometimes be easy to forget how good it feels to honor OTHERS in our lives that have given us so much. We can often think about how important it is to forgive people and to not hold grudges. However, it is just as – if not more – important that we let others know how much they mean to us. Stay in touch with your tribe, and let them know {frequently} what they mean to you. Make the time to be with them and love on them.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

:: Freedom Junkie Antidote: I am going to say something rather controversial (so what’s new, right?). Check this out: Happiness is a Choice. If you’re in a  funk, you can choose to be happy like THAT ** dramatic SNAP**  I’m not saying you “should” do that. I am a huge fan of letting crappy feelings wash over me so I can move through them sooner. What I am referring to here is making a choice to be happy when sitting in the funk no longer serves you. Don’t be attached to old patterns and habits that lead to your suffering. Don’t be afraid of change – look towards it fiercely! Lean into your joy and your dreams. If you are a pessimist, learn how to be optimistic (you can actually do this!). Don’t worry about looking cool or that being too easy to please is the sign of a dork or simpleton. Be THRILLED at things that are new and good. Clap. Dance! Howl. Twirl! Skip. Yeehaw! Feel your happiness fully. It’s the coolest – and sexiest – thing ever.

I know that because you are a part of the Freedom Junkie tribe, you will look over these 5 things and take some action around them. But what your own personal regrets?

What is one of your biggest regrets right now?

What’s one thing you can do to help release it?

If you want some help with this, schedule a free strategy session with me ASAP and let’s get you unstuck. Pronto.

The #1 Requirement for Manifesting Your Dreams – Learn to Feel Good First

Have you been working on your mindset, following all the things you’ve learned about Law of Attraction, doing “the work,” and still not seeing your dreams manifest?

You’re not alone. One client recently said to me, “I don’t understand WHY this isn’t manifesting yet! I am doing all the right things! I do visualizations, I do intentions, I have my support systems in place…I’m doing all the right things! I am sick and tired of being poor. Of struggling. I want this all to stop. I want things to be easy for once. I am so sick and tired of things being the way they are, of my life being the way it is. I just want a chance to do get out of this situation I’m in! I’m embarrassed about where I am at.”

Whoa, Nellie! The first part of what she was saying started out alright, but it’s the second half of what she was saying that is a sign of THE block: not feeling good.

Abraham Hicks (of the book Ask and It is Given) says that we must start with acceptance of where we are. We must FEEL GOOD. Only after learning to accept where we are so that we can feel good can we then be ready to raise our vibration to a level that will manifest what we want.

Until we can accept where we are, it is a catch 22, because being unhappy that things aren’t manifesting or changing keeps us from manifesting it! How many times have you heard the story of the woman who met her soulmate only after learning to feel good alone and being single? Well, I am one of those women! My soul mate manifested only AFTER I had learned to feel good without having a partner, only after I learned to not feel lonely when I was alone. It was hard to believe that learning those things was important. I felt like maybe learning to like being single was going to push away the things I wanted to call forth in my life. But what it did was make me happy – and that is the most attractive thing in the world – to the Universe, and to potential partners;)

Some people want things to manifest and appear in order to give them confidence that things are working. This is natural. But feeling better means you are on your way! Remember this: 99% of manifesting is complete before you see the evidence.

What exactly does this mean?

Stay in vibration before the evidence shows. This is another way of saying that you must FEEL GOOD even before your dreams manifest. This means you must first start at accepting where you are. Don’t wait for something to show to give you proof or confidence, or before you allow yourself to feel good.

We have this notion in our culture that being satisfied, being content, means that we are settling. This is not true. You can simultaneously be content and accept where you are at AND dream and desire more. They are not mutually exclusive. It’s like the equanimity of an accomplished spiritual practitioner who can be happy whether in the city or Himalayan hillside, whether eating a gourmet meal or barley and potatoes. You can – your MUST – learn to accept the present so that your vibration doesn’t bring you down and put up a block to manifesting your desires.

This takes work. The above client would call me in a fluster, and then we would talk it out, she would slowly, over the course of the session, recognize her blessings and connect with the abundance she already had, and then feel eventually good again. She’d feel relaxed and calm and centered and patient. She would surrender to the process.

We had to do this a lot. And she had to learn to do this on her own, because it was so tempting to fall back to the familiar and old story of lack!

Did it work? It did! She recently got accepted into the very competitive program of her choice after her third attempt. And let me tell you – she is PSYCHED! Many would have given up right before their success. They wouldn’t have applied again. Or they would have let their vibration bring them down and further block them. But she stayed committed to her dream, she worked on keeping her vibration high, even though it was a challenge.

Remember what I said above about 99% of the manifestation being complete before you actually see it? That is because most of it has to do with feeling good and vibrating at a higher level. If my client had let her vibration fall over and over again, if she didn’t create the support she needed through having a coach, a community of badass Freedom Junkies, and selecting the friends carefully whom she spent time with, having a higher vibration would have been much harder – and her manifestation a lot further away.

So many of us give up right before our dream is about to show itself to us.

Don’t let that be you. Learn to accept where you are, to feel good in the here and now, AND to allow yourself to dream. Then, and only then, will the true extent of your manifesting power be unleashed.

Where to start? Develop a gratitude practice that you do at least once a day, either upon awakening or upon going to sleep. I prefer starting my day with it and doing this in the morning. Think of three things you are grateful for as soon as you wake up – before peeing, before drinking water, before cuddling. Do it right when you wake up, when your brain is most impressionable. This will help you get in touch with the abundance you already have in your life – and get your vibration up as a result!

Give yourself permission to feel good. Now!

Have a story to share about this challenge, and either overcoming it or continuing to deal with it? Let us know in the comments below – that way we can all support each other and learn from each other too!

How To Feel Better When Your Partner Won’t Do What You Ask

“A true life of freedom begins with not having your happiness depend on someone else’s behavior.” ~ Ana Neff

One of the most common questions I hear as I cruise around my life’s days is, “Why won’t my boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse just do what it takes to make me happy?”

There is some deep belief that if they loved you, they would just do it, Nike style. They’d just put their shoes away. Or not come home late. Or put happy faces after their texts. They’d stop flirting with someone who is not you. They’d ix-nay the nagging, the whining, the criticizing. They’d stop making excuses. They’d stop being a commitment-phobe. Whatever it is that pisses you off, if they loved you, they’d just cut it out already!

So yeah! Good question! Why WON’T they just do what it takes to make you happy?

Actually, it’s because I lied. It is, in fact, a shitty question.

Why is this question so shitty? It’s the wrong question.

You see, it is NOT your partner’s job to make you happy. Sorry.

It is not YOUR job to focus on what you want them to STOP doing.

It is YOUR job to focus on what they are doing well, and to make requests for things you’d like them to do, knowing very well it may never happen. It means you make the requests, and not make your happiness rely on whether they actually do it or not.

It is your job to accept them. Fully.

It means you stop caring about all that other shizzle. For realz. It means you focus on how to make yourself happy instead.

That’s true love.

Let’s practice.

Think of some way you need your partner to change their behavior before you can be content in the relationship. Usually this sounds something like, “If he would only ask my opinion before he went out and did his own thing, THEN I could feel secure and feel like my opinion mattered. Then I’d feel loved.” or “If she would just let me do whatever I wanted without having to check in all the time, then I’d feel more free and be able to relax into this relationship more easily.”

Now consider this: you can FEEL however you want RIGHT NOW. Without your partner changing their behavior.

I’m serious! I am sooooo not full of it here.

You do NOT need your partner’s complicity in order to feel ANYTHING – whether that feeling is love, freedom, joy, adventure, generosity…anything!

I know this is a tough one to absorb. It is, admittedly, easier on the surface to feel like the only reason you feel crappy is because your partner is being lame. It’s much easier to believe that you could easily feel good if others just followed your freaking awesome rules, right?

So…how’s that workin’ for ya?

The reality is, you can choose to be happy – Just. Like. That. {followed by an emphatic and dramatic snap of the fingers}

You can truly be happy even if your partner never promptly returns your calls. Or if your girlfriend never stops asking you how you feel. Or if your spouse continues to leave their shizzle all over the place.

It’s one thing to KNOW this is true. It is another to ACCEPT that this is possible.

Yet accepting that it is possible to be happy (or to achieve ANY emotional state you desire, for that matter) independent of another’s behavior is the key to loving someone fully and to accepting them as the amazing human being they are.

The funny thing is, when you love someone fully and truly accept them, they are also way more likely to WANT to make you happy. They are way more likely to love you back in the same, accepting way.

So what is a better, healthier question than the one we started with? Try this on:

“What can I do for MYSELF to help me feel that yummy way I want to feel?”

Blam! That’s it! What can YOU do for yourself?

Most of the time, when we are wanting our partner to do something in order for us to feel better, it is because we are lacking something in ourselves, lacking some level of self love, self care, or self acceptance. And while there is the option of digging deep into our endless source of soul energy to create it ourselves, it is often a whole lot easier to ask our partners to fix it for us.

But they can’t.

C’mon. You know that, right? You know this is true because you are badass, and you’re here – a fellow Freedom Junkie. We are here to free our minds, and free our lives. You know deep down that a key part of true freedom is learning how to make OURSELVES happy.

When you know how to make yourself happy, you aren’t going to hang out in an unhealthy relationship, because you won’t be afraid to be alone. YOU know how to make yourself happy, and aren’t going to hang out waiting for the lameass who keeps letting you down to do it for you (which, just for emphasis, they can’t anyway!).

If you’re single, when you learn to make yourself happy, you won’t easily pick a partner who sucks at loving you in a way you are meant to be loved. You will know how to make yourself so happy, that you won’t be out there scanning the world for the next guy who shows you the slightest bit of kindness, like handing you a straw at the juice bar. You’ll simply say, “Why, thank you!” and wait for the the guy who shows you some REAL fucking manhood, like not needing external flirtations with women to help HIM feel secure.

You stop pretending to love people fully when in reality, you are super annoyed at who they are and want them to change because you are with them so they can help make you feel better and they happened to hand you the straw at the juice bar so you snagged them while they were weak.

That’s not love. That’ entrapment.

When you know how to make yourself happy, adventurous, safe, generous, calm, grounded, sexy, juicy…you don’t NEED anyone. Rather, you see your partner (or future partner) as exactly that – a partner in this amazing life. A partner with whom you gaze out at the world holding hands, ready to make this one helluva ride together! A partner whom you accept, because you’re not with someone for potential.

You are with them because they rock AS IS, and you CHOSE them because they rock. Not because of the majestic Jedi you can craft them to be once you gain control of their mind.

Remember, this is not an overnight kind of thing. Learning how to make yourself happy is your life’s work. This means you will revisit this lesson over and over, hopefully excelling at it more and more each time as we spiral UPWARDS towards the heavens, and we will continually improve our ability to make ourselves happy.

A true life of freedom begins with not having your happiness depend on someone else’s behavior.

We are powerless over others! We are only in control of how we respond and react, and in what we create – our feelings, thoughts, and actions.

Now, I did not say starting this that once you learn to make yourself happy, you will live happily ever after with your partner.

Once you learn to make yourself happy, you will be able to decide if your current relationship is truly healthy for you, and not something you’re in simply because you are afraid to be alone. Once you get better at creating happiness, you will more skillfully call the right people to you with whom it is easy to be happy with, because you aren’t looking for someone to fix.

But if you are already with the right person (lucky YOU!), once you know how to make yourself feel yummy, you stop expecting your partner to do it for you.

What happens next is a true gift for them: you can focus on letting THEM be THEM. You can accept them, because after all, you are with them for the amazing people they are, and not the potential bandaid-of-a-partner they could be for your own wounds. You get to celebrate life with them. THAT ROCKS! And yes, the you can live happily every after. At least most of the time.

Focus on feeling good. Focus on helping your partner feel good in a way that does NOT compromise your ability to be happy. Focus on letting go of what they’re NOT doing for you. When you’re with the right person, this happens more easily in an amazing way.

Focus on what you want. Happiness. Commit to learning how to create that for yourself. Once you’ve done that, watch the love flow in, baby!

Share with me below about how you have managed the pull between wanting someone to change so you can feel better. We’ve all been there. Let’s call a spade a spade and get on with learning how to be happy!

Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs, sign up for a free 30 minute strategy session, and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting FreedomJunkie.com

I Am a Pee Stick Addict

I had no idea there was a term for this funny thing I have developed about obsessively taking pregnancy tests. But after taking three today, I had to wonder if there was something a little off.

I am almost 40 and trying to get pregnant, after all, so in a way it makes sense. But in another way, it’s a bit obsessive;)

You see, 10 years ago, when I was 29, I was walking down the streets of San Francisco with a good friend talking about how awesome our lives were, and how we were pretty sure we didn’t want kids – at least not anytime soon. We went climbing in Yosemite almost every weekend and took epic lipstick roadtrips to Joshua Tree, and had wonderful adventures, all over the world. We were studying at the graduate schools of our choice, and we felt young, sexy, smart, and fucking badass.

As we reflected on our blessings, my friend said to me, “If I ever talk about getting pregnant, kick me.” I laughed. I think I even said, “Totally!”

I am less prone to saying words like “never,” so in this case I leaned more towards a gentler, “I can go either way, but I’m not going to stress about getting pregnant or make any decisions based on it” – like being with men just because I really, really wanted to have a baby, which so many of my friends were doing. And I definitely wasn’t going to lasso a guy into getting me pregnant because I lied about being on birth control. The idea of that scared me – I couldn’t believe people would sneak someone into fatherhood!

At that time, I was totally OCD about not missing one pill of my birth control. I did not want to have an abortion if I got pregnant at that time, and I did not want to have a kid at that time. I simply did everything in my power to not get pregnant – except to not have sex. That was not an option I was willing to entertain;)

As I got older, when I dated men who said they wanted to have a family with me, I found myself starting to think about what creating a family might be like. I discovered I would miss a few pills here and there. I wondered about what I’d do if I accidentally got pregnant.

I even stayed in a way-less-than-ideal relationship for too long, and I am pretty sure it was because he wanted to have kids with me and I rather fancied the idea. The idea. At least of me being pregnant. Not of him being the father.

I even found myself being secretly pissed as a midwife when I would need to care for women who were pregnant but didn’t want to be. It was a very interesting, and surprising, experience after being used to so effortlessly give my love and care and compassion.

Still, in the end, I knew I didn’t want to have a child unless I was with a man with whom I felt the journey of parenting would be an utter adventure and joy. I didn’t meet anyone like that for a long time. I was even married once and I knew I didn’t want to have kids with him, because he was not the partner with whom it would be an utter adventure and joy.

Then, over a decade later, Thai (my fiancée) and I allowed ourselves to love one another the way we always had, and the love of my life blossomed.

And I wanted to have kids. NOW.

He and I reunited when I was 38. While we wanted to, we couldn’t try to get pregnant them because of our trips to Africa and having to take anti-malarials, which cause birth defects. And when we returned from our recent Africa trip in December of 2012, I took three more weeks of the anti-malarials and then came off of birth control for the first time in 23 years. 23 years!

Let the games begin!

In hindsight, I still think I made a good decision by delaying pregnancy. If I had gotten pregnant before I was with my fiancée, I would have had a very different life. I’d have less flexibility to consider closing shop in the lower 48 and moving to a different state to live out of a yurt through Alaskan winters, for example.

I think about my exes and, while generally really good guys, one in particular makes me want to vomit when I think of what it would have been like to have to co-parent with him, because we would definitely not have stayed together despite having a kid. It would have royally sucked.

Part of me wishes I hadn’t taken anti-malarials and just tried to get pregnant ASAP. But malaria would have sucked too, and we were in places where it wasn’t a question of IF you get malaria, but WHEN. I went with statistics. I was WAY more likely to get malaria than to get pregnant at that time!

So here I am, about to turn 40 this summer, and so very much wanting to have a baby with my soul mate. It makes me cry just writing this. I never had the feeling of wanting to create a baby before this, and it is really, really beautiful.

Right now, it seems it’s not so much about being pregnant, per se. Rather, it’s about having a baby with Thai. And if I wasn’t with him, I don’t think I would want to have a kid. I decided long ago that being a single mother was a challenge I would choose to pass on. If I wasn’t going to rock the family thing with my soul mate, I had plenty to keep me busy and fulfilled.

But now…I want it really, really badly now. My moon is 5 days late and I’ve been testing every day since 10 days after I thought I’d have ovulated. I’ve mastered the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility and I have my Woman Calendar App downloaded onto my iPhone. I sleep with my basal temp thermometer by my bedside, and I have months worth of LH strips from Amazon that would allow me to test for ovulation every day for months (read: WAY more than necessary). Along with the LH strips came 20 pregnancy tests and I have only 6 left (read: way too few).

Then there’s the worry. I know its normal for my cycles to be irregular after having come off the pills. I broke my rib right before I was supposed to ovulate, so I know that can throw things off too. But still – I can’t help but wish I am late because I am pregnant. I know I am not supposed to stress or worry about it. I know I know I know. Trust me. I know.

But I do.

I had one negative test today and re-read the instructions for this particular test and it said to use plastic or glass cups. I had been using metal. After two Master’s degrees, I figured I might have just slept through the part about how freakin’ important glass and plastic is to accuracy, so I took out another pregnancy test. It had a faulty absorbent area that was falling off but I used it anyway. Negative. Then I did another one because maybe it was negative because the absorbent part was messed up. Negative.

It’s a good thing these strips were cheap on Amazon.

I read the reviews for them because there was a weird line in the wrong place on one of them and I was looking for comments. I found out people were saying things like, “These strips are great for pee stick addicts! They’re so cheap!” There’s a blog for pee stick addicts. And an acronym POAS Addict (Pee On A Stick Addict). And a group POASAA – Pee On A Stick Addicts Anonymous. For realz.

A pee stick addict. Who’dve thunk it.

Alas, it’s a name I am willing to accept. I’m coming out;)

Wish me luck, tribespeople. I’ve had lots of good vibes from the Universe telling me not to worry, like the woman that cut my hair telling me she had her first baby at 40, unassisted, and now she was pregnant again, unassisted. It was one of those annoying, “I got pregnant right away once I came off pills!” stories, but still, it was cool that she was 42 and six month pregnant, and looking and feeling great.

In the meantime?

I’ve decided that for every month I am not pregnant, I am going to do something that I wouldn’t do if I were pregnant. Recently I dyed my hair for the first time in over 17 years. I know it is theoretically safe to dye your hair when pregnant. But I wouldn’t do it. So I got a Baliage highlight thing done. It’s fun;)

The previous month, I signed on for a Grand Canyon trip, which I’ll cancel if I’m really pregnant, so either way life is good. Next month – well, I won’t start focusing on what I don’t want. I teach the exact opposite here at Freedom Junkie – focus on what you DO want – because I know it works.

Now I have a new mantra to add to my repertoire: “I am pregnant with a perfectly healthy, happy baby.” Aho._______________

Addendum: I thought y’all would like to know that I got knocked up in Mongolia August, 2013 – approximately 3 days before my 30th birthday, while we climbed the tallest peak in Mongolia and another peak the bordered Russia, Mongolia and China, and packrafted 250km down the Tsavan Gol, a milky white river that took us back to the city of Olgii. It was there that I bought a broken pregnancy test (I didn’t know it was falling apart when I bought it). It came out positive but I wondered if it was broken.

So I bought 5 more. And they were all positive too;) She is due April, 2014…and I can’t wait for her to get here! Good thing there’s not a peestick for when you’ll go into labor;)

Days 358 to 365 – What One Freedom Junkie Manifested After a Year of Committing to Living Full-On

Full On 365This is the story of when I faced death one time too many – and the story of where this blog began.

In early 2011 I thought I had cancer – again. I had received an MRI as routine follow-up for my past kidney cancer…during which they also toss in a free check to see if my past melanoma has spread anywhere as well. I received a call from my doctor on a Friday afternoon saying he’d like to talk to me about the results. But since he was leaving town, we could talk about it Monday.

WTF? Who DOES that?! An oncologist is NOT supposed to do that on a Friday afternoon.

After my inner rant about the fu@#ed-up timing of the call, I then thought, “Oh shit. That’s never good.” At least, it never means it is normal. When you have a normal PAP smear, they leave a message (if given permission) that all was normal. They say, “Hello, Ana! This is Merry Mindy from Dr. Good News’ office and I just wanted to let you know your cervix fucking rocks!”

Well, I gave permission for such a message and that is NOT what I was hearing on the answering machine.

I replayed the message over and over, had my friends and boyfriend at the time listen to it to try to decipher the underlying message and, ultimately, to try and decide before freakin’ MONDAY if I was going to receive the news that one of my two cancers had returned – or worse, that they may have spread. All of this based on our highly-attuned voice-interpretation Jedi skills, of course.

We decided it was fine. He sounded mildly cheery and relaxed.

Whatever. The certainty of that conclusion lasted all but five minutes.

Between that moment and Monday, I was going down to San Francisco for a coaching workshop. On the first day, I was selected to be a model client. Well, I raised my hand like that eager kid in the front row, to be honest. I really really wanted to be picked. I had some shit brewing that I wanted to process. My friend and colleague, Sabina, intuitively called my name.

I walked to the front of the room, sat down with her in a chair, looked into her deep brown eyes, and after recounting the story above, I paused, looked up, and said, “I am not ready. I am not ready to die yet. I am NOT DONE.” I cried. Just a little, though.

She then gave me a powerful challenge. I was to look at the room of 15 or so people and know I was going to die in two minutes. What would I want to say to them? I had seconds to think about it and two minutes to say it.

Tick tock.

I didn’t pause. I looked at each one of them directly in the eye (and realized how little I actually did that lately) and I said – no, I shouted – “WAKE THE FUCK UP!” Wake the fuck up and stop wasting this precious life. Is there someone you love but haven’t told them yet? Say it! Is there something you’ve been wanting to do – or BE – your whole life but you keep making excuses? Do it – BE it – now. Is there a way you want to feel? Give yourself fucking permission to be happy, bold, and brave! Refuse to live life with regrets. Say you’re sorry. Get over the stupid grudge. Let go of the bullshit.

Life is shorter than you’ll ever want it to be. YOU WILL DIE – and you don’t know when. So get to the business of living life full-on. NOW.

At this point I was sobbing. And so was half the class. I don’t know if they were sobbing because of me and my predicament, or whether they were sobbing at the realization of all that they weren’t living yet…but I didn’t care. My message was powerful, and I felt it was complete.

Sabina then asked me about how I was living full-out or not (she used the term full-out). I realized that despite what my life looked like on paper – my international travels, my catching babies as a nurse-midwife during that miraculous moment in life that I got to witness on a regular basis, my successful coaching business, my apparent health, my supposedly fun and exciting relationship – despite it all, I wasn’t living what I KNEW was full-out for me.

I committed then and there to live full-out every day for a month. At least I think it was a month. And I decided to say “full-on” instead. It reminded me of the 80’s;)

Within a month I broke up with my boyfriend who, while having good intentions and dashing good looks, fell far short of my version of the man I wanted to spend my life with. I wanted my Noah (yes, that’s a cheesy Hollywood reference from The Notebook). Hollywood fantasy or not, I knew it was possible for me, and I wanted nothing less. I’d rather be alone than living life half-way with someone who couldn’t meet me where I was at.

I wanted my sexy sweet manly man, who was spiritual and had integrity and trust, who was madly in love with me and with whom I knew I would grow old with and have amazing adventures – evolving together and celebrating one another more than hurting one another. I had to admit that if this lil’ lady was going to live full-on, I couldn’t have someone as a partner who didn’t show up the way that I knew would allow me to live to my fullest potential. In my full-on mind, that’s the only kind of relationship to be in. Otherwise, they are way too much work to be worth it!

I knew this man existed out there for me. I had already met him once. I wasn’t going to miss it again.

Leaving a relationship that is a “maybe” can be one of the hardest things to do. It is so much easier to say “Yes” or “No” to the obvious. But when something is a “maybe,” we can waste a lot of freakin’ time. And trust me – if its a maybe, it usually becomes a “Hell No!” at some point. If you’re living full on, you don’t have time to wait. You have to trust your intuition and say “Hell Yes!” to your happiness. I had way too many Maybes that I waited for to become Hell-Nos before I left, and I had finally learned my lesson.

In that month, I also committed to leaving my job and moving to a mountain town within the next year. I had a condo in Telluride, Colorado, and it was high-time I return to the mountains, which is where my soul get filled. I wanted more free time, more adventures, more badassness EVERY DAY.

I went skinny dipping after work at sunset, I danced naked in the rain (yes, I find clothes excessive), I got off my ass when I didn’t feel like it and went out to go night skiing under the moonlight, I looked people in the eye, I connected and focused on being present with friends when they needed me. I didn’t multi-task when on the phone with my mom. Full-on living happens at all levels – not just in the outward adventures, but through inner integrity as well.

Months later, I decided that I had wandered a bit from my full-on commitment. I was getting sucked into my business and focusing so much on work, and less on getting outside. While I love my work and am blessed with beautiful careers, I wasn’t very balanced with taking care of my body and my value of adventure. Yes, we had just gone to Africa for a month, but as soon as we returned I was pretty stressed at work again.

I was proud that I had cut back to part-time at work, but alas, I was still there – hanging on with one arm as I swung above the beautiful but terrifying void below. I had 4 days off in a row twice a month, and 8-10 days off once a month…but it wasn’t enough for the type of adventures I wanted. I wanted time to explore, to have the freedom to be spontaneous, freedom to write when I was inspired…FREEDOM! I chose freedom over security. I still make that choice, every day.

It had felt so good to live full-on for 30 days, and so many good things came of it. I was definitely living full-on a lot of the time, but I didn’t want a slap in the face from the Universe to make me realize that I was stilling falling short of MY version of a Full-On life.

I then wondered, “What would happen if I committed to a full year?”

Here we are backcountry skiing with wigs!
Here we are backcountry skiing with wigs!

With my soul-mate, Thai, sitting at my side, I showed him the blog I just started, www.FullOn365.com (which later migrated over to www.FreedomJunkie.com so I only had to maintain one blog). I said to him, “I am going to commit to living full-on, every day, for a full year. And I’m going to write about it here. What do you think?

Thai looked at me with a smile and said, “I think it’s a great idea! Your blog looks awesome! I think it’s great that you want to help others live like that too, inspiring them” – and this coming from a guy who practically develops a rash when he has to work on or look at a computer. He was into it, and psyched for me. He was also a part of what manifested when I decided to live full-on, and now I could feel it: we were going to manifest some epic shit together, especially once I committed to this full year.

So it began – and here it is ending. Not my living Full-On – that’s not ending. I have learned that it is indeed possible to live full-on every day. But now that I have made it such a habit, I don’t need a blog to hold me accountable anymore. I also noticed that the more full-on I was living (like traveling in Africa again for three months, or being madly in love), I had less time for blogging;) So rather, it’s the FullOn365 blog itself that is ending.

Here I’ve arrived, and in the last 365 days I’ve manifested:

:: my incredibly amazing fiancee Thai (whom I’ve known for 13 years now…and we finally found our way back to each other after meeting in Kathmandu long ago)
:: I quit my job and have a wonderful entrepreneurial career with life, love, and wellness coaching interspersed with catching babies in beautiful places.
:: I moved to Alaska with my partner and get to see majestic mountains daily and play in them too;) I still have my condo in Telluride, but this mountain town in Alaska suits me quite well
:: I live in an awesome yurt with my partner who built it with his own hands, and who finished it the day I arrived to be with him
:: I am experiencing ever-improving levels of health and well-being
:: markedly less stress
:: traveled to at least 14 countries in the past 18 months, including two trips to Africa
:: launched my long-dreamt about and finally-happening-in-an-epic-way Freedom Sessions Mastermind group
:: 5 months vacation a year (and growing!)
:: preparing to start a family – yup, I’m taking prenatal vitamins for more than awesome hair and nails now, amigos!
:: a closer relationship with my mother
:: a tribe of friends who howl at the moon like I do (in fact, I’m flying to meet them at a beach house in Mexico as I write this)
:: a deepening trust that we are here to be happy. This life is meant to be enjoyed. We enjoy it more when we show up with integrity for others and are a good friend and lover and partner and son or daughter. We are meant to have FUN and live our dreams.

We were put here on this beautiful earth to share our gifts with others. Only then is the Universe complete.

I hope that this blog has served its purpose – not just in holding me accountable to you through my updates for living full-on, but in inspiring you to do the same – EVERY DAY.

Wake the fuck up.

That’s all I have to say. Oh, except to add that what the doctor saw was a small “likely” benign area of higher density on my liver that needed no further follow-up except for a repeat in 6 months – which showed no change (and was therefore deemed to be insignificant). Yay!

PPS: Take a look at this picture. I found it our friend’s remote cabin in Alaska. It’s the manifesto for my life. It’s the manifesto for the way I have been living the past 365 days during my FullOn365 challenge. Let me know what you think about it below – and spread the Freedom!


Days 338 to 358 Keep It Simple, Stupid – but maybe not that simple

Full On 365Wow…coming back from Africa hasn’t been easy. We got back, I worked in Oregon catching babies and visited with friends and family over the holidays, then we came back to Alaska and were here all of one week before leaving to go work in a village out in the bush. I also managed to launch the 2013 Freedom Sessions Mastermind group in those two short weeks, and am THRILLED that almost all the spots are filled! So that gave me a lot of energy, but then I started to get tired with packing and unpacking yet AGAIN. After traveling for three months and coming home to the yurt for only 2 weeks since then, I am craving nesting, like a pregnant woman in her last month, like a sailor returning home after being at sea for years – except with a slight flavor of Gidget on crack.

I know. Scary, right?

Alas, we have also planned a trip to Mexico with a group of friends NEXT WEEK. What was I thinking? I was thinking I hadn’t seen many of my friend’s for months, and we wanted to be someplace warm with each other. Since I had been in Africa for so long, I was focused more on the “with each other” part than the warm part…but it is starting to get chilly here;)

We actually have many friends coming down for the trip – even friends from other states! So in this whirlwind of movement, it naturally crossed our minds to ask: What if we kept things simple and got married in Mexico? A small intimate ceremony then have the big party back in the US this summer? Our parents would actually be OK with it because, well, parents who have kids like us are pretty easy-going about spontaneous big decisions. As long as we had the party;)

However, the reality is, with all this travel and with all this moving around after our return, I am feeling like I am not ready to also rush into planning a wedding in Mexico. Even if it would be simple and amazing and undoubtedly entertaining with the motley crew we’ve conjured up. And I don’t want to keep things SO simple that we don’t give it the proper attention for it to feel sacred.

I am cleansing deeply over the last month, and that has left me with clarity and energy, but on the deep-cleanse days I only have energy for self-care, a bit of yoga, and connecting with my peeps. The fact that my soul hasn’t caught up with me yet from Africa has caused me to feel less present in my relationships, and that is the LAST state of mind I want to be in for planning something like this. Thai has also noticed we are under some stress and pressure, and planning this might make too crazy.

It would be “easier” in some ways to try to do it in Mexico because our friends will already be there in a beautiful place (we rented a PHAT pad on the beach with – get this – and infinity pool yippeee!). Yet we have to honor where our energy is. If it feels right when we are there, and we feel deeply it is the right thing, then we’ll do it. But right now it feels freakin’ CRAZY to try to plan it;)

I have also thought a lot about if I should share this next part, but I figured someone can learn from my process, so why put a kaibash on my vulnerability now, right?

I am trying to get pregnant. I am 39 and going to be 40 this year. I have been involved in Women’s Health and midwifery for over 9 years, and have too good of an understanding of my odds. Did you know the medical term for women over 35 who are pregnant is “Eldery Gavida?” Yup. Elderly.

I know the best I can do is to keep up my self-love practices, continuing to eat well, exercising, decreasing my stress, surrendering to the Universe, to the acupuncture needles, and also surrendering to the fertility specialist if this shizzle doesn’t land a zygote in the next 6 months. In short, don’t be elderly-like unless it’s Yoda-style elderly.

I don’t think I’d do IVF but I would certainly try some other things…I think.

I’ve got a lot going on, to say the least. And it can be easy for me to want to throw my hands up and say, “Whatever! Whatever happens is what will happen!” Like a spontaneous wedding in Mexico. Or not even thinking about this pregnancy thing and not taking extra steps to improve my fertility. But the bottom line is, some things just can’t be THAT simple. Some things deserve a little discomfort and effort (the good kind – not struggle). Sometimes, when you really want something, you can’t just wait and see. You need to move on that shizzle. Be proactive. DO.

When you’re interested in something, you try. When you’re committed, you DO.

I’m going to nest now, so I can save some energy for doing – and BEING me. I’m going to full-on find that balance between surrender and action. Are you with me?

And by the way, I am only 1 week from completing my year of commitment to Full-On living – and as of now, it has been too sweet to even think of stopping!

Who Are You Hanging Out With Freedom Junkie? Your Tribe Matters.

That’s right – it’s official, and not just what your mother kept telling you when you wanted to hang out with the bad boys: who you hang out with matters, and studies have shown that your success will be equal to the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Crazy! This goes beyond birds of a feather, peeps. This affects you on ALL levels of your being, not just where you’re at in the present, but also who you BECOME.

This concept applies not only to levels of success, but to health and wellness as well. We now know that wellness behavior is “contagious.” People who generally are heavy eaters will eat less when eating out in a group, and those who are light eaters will eat more. We tend to meet people in the middle when out in a group. By the way, this happens with money too: heavy spenders will spend less when out in a group, tightwads (no offense) spend more. And if you have a friend who is obese, you have a 50% higher risk for obesity, and if you have a friend of “normal” weight who has an obese friend that you don’t even know, you risk of being obese still goes up 25%.

So hang on – does this mean we shouldn’t spend time with people who are not at the level of success that we want to achieve, or who are not in perfect physical condition? Hell no! The risk isn’t 100% 😉 And if that was how it worked, peeps who were where we wanted to be at technically shouldn’t hang with us, right?

What it does mean is that we need to be aware of the influence that others have on us, even on an unconscious level. It also means we need to consciously create our tribe and make sure we have plenty of positive influence in our lives.

What can you do about it, Freedom Junkie?

If you want to experience more adventure, make a conscious effort to meet and spend time with people who are active in doing the things you want to do more of (tango? skinny dipping? ice climbing? war-zone travel? wearing more lace and leather?).

Do you want to create a successful business? It behooves you to spend more time with people who are where you want to be. If you want to take your income to the next level, you need to hang out with mentors who did what you want to do and are at where you want to be financially.

It doesn’t work to want to start living a more adventurous life or create a thriving new business, and then hang out with slackers on your couch talking about your dreams all day. Or worse: spending time with negative people who shoot down any possibilities for change or growth. Yuck.

So now the tough question: Are there people in your life that you need to let go of? Or people that you need to spend less time with so their level of influence isn’t so strong?

The fun question: Who do you want to spend more time with? Who is that person whose radiance makes you smile, whose joy lifts your heart? Who is that person whose business totally inspires you? Reach out to them and try to get together for coffee, or yoga. If they can’t hang out, no worries. They are probably busy because their lives are so full! Keep asking and setting the intention to attract more amazing people into your life, and continuously work on becoming that person you want to be.

To create the life you want (and deserve), you need to spend time with people – aka other Freedom Junkies – who have the same goals as you and are taking action to make it happen. We are impressionable beings, for better or for worse. That’s why every successful entrepreneur i know is a part of a Mastermind group. That’s why people are more successful at losing their goal weight when working with a personal trainer, or completing the marathon when they train with a group or training partner. That’s why in addition to having clients work with me 1:1, I create group programs for Freedom Junkie, like the Freedom Sessions Mastermind and the Ziji Up! Mastery Program. It really makes a HUGE difference! Let’s make a conscious choice about who gets to make those impressions on us, OK?


PS: Do you have big dreams for the next year and want a tribe to help you get there? Check out joining our group of 10 amazing women during the next  Freedom Sessions Mastermind Group. Head on over now and see if you likey! You can also be a more active part of our Freedom Junkie tribe by taking part in our free monthly Jedi juice calls and hanging out on Facebook and Twitter with us. See you there!

Days 303 to 337 How I Went From “Simply Sassy” to “Queen B*#!h” and Back Again

The way other people respond to you tells you way more about what it is like to be them, about what it is like to be living their life – and has very little to do with you.

Sorry mom.

This Christmas I was preparing to toast the love of my life at dinner. I started out first toasting my mother, followed by my future father-in-law, then our close friend, and was rather enjoying our dinner, for which I had roasted two ducks and placed juicy slices with crispy skins onto butternut squash ravioli, which was on top of savory shredded brussel sprouts. Yummm, right?!

I turn to my love and say, “And now I’d like to toast the love of my life,” and my mom interrupts and tries to make a joke of sorts by saying, “Oh, this is the second half of their fight! Ha ha ha!” She was referencing a disagreement I had earlier that day with my sweetie, which ended and kisses and was WAY left behind by us. But apparently it was fodder for some intimate-moment sarcasm.

Poor timing to say the least. But not the worst thing to say

Still, I stopped mid-toast, looked at her, and with a totally fake smile said, “Mom, could you please try not to talk right now, because this is when you tend to ruin everything.

Yup. I said that out loud. In front of everyone. I didn’t even try to kick her under the table or something just as juvenile but at least more subtle.


Since when did I go from Simply Sassy to Queen Bitch? I mean, my mom has often put her foot in her mouth, and I’ve been able to let it go, because I’ve learned that I usually notice such things far more than anyone else in the room.

Fortunately it was an intimate dinner with only super close family and friends, so I felt a little less awkward. They called me out on my shit in as funny a way as possible. One friend even managed to turn what I had said into a nice statement about how hearing harsh things sometimes is “the price you pay when hanging with people who get things done, because that’s how things get done”…or something like that. It was a nice but unsuccessful attempt to make my bitchiness seem to have softer edges. We changed the subject to opening presents

Thank God for wine.

To be fair, my mom was experimenting with sarcasm. Since English is her second language, and this is a new thing for her, indeed many comments were somewhat inappropriate. But there were more moments like this.

Like when Thai, my fiancée, who had proposed to me in 15 countries, chose to do so once more because both of our parents were together in once place (a rarity), my mom laughs and starts shouting, “Say, ‘No’ this time! Say no! Ha ha ha!”

No shit.

I crowded out her voice. I know Thai didn’t even hear her because he didn’t know what I was talking about when I mentioned it later. I didn’t say anything then because even though it annoyed the hell out of me, I still respected and valued the sacredness of the moment, which couldn’t be contaminated by anything someone else was shouting. And I whispered, “Yes,” as he held me close.

Then I steamed about it for days. I brought it up to her once, hoping she would see it was inappropriate to be sarcastic in intimate moments. “I was just joking!” she argued back.

Did I mention I hate sarcasm? I tried to tell her this sarcasm thing wasn’t something I was so into. I don’t think she got what sarcastic meant. How ironic.

While I could blame this all on sarcasm, I know that it wasn’t the only reason I was being triggered. These rude outbursts of mine weren’t just happening with my mom. I also snapped at Thai when he said things that I would have normally let slide. And I got super-irritated when a man at the grocery store said, “Wow, you’re a midwife? So, like, how long does it take before the baby is ready to come out?”

That is a totally appropriate question, yet I wanted to shout out, “9 freakin’ months dude! Don’t you watch the Discovery Channel?!” I didn’t shout that out, and since I can apparently maintain professionalism while feeling bitchy, it all went smoothly. Still…

Not my most glowing moment.

So, again, when did I go from Simply Sassy to Queen Bitch? I am usually uber-tolerant, patient, and chillaxed, especially after a nice long vacation. But here is what I realized that turned everything around:

I was unhealthy.

It was hard to admit. I – who has identified myself with terms such as climbing guide, yoga instructor, massage therapist, holistic healthcare practitioner, meditator, Buddhist – had become unhealthy.

It snuck up on me, really.

It started with a crappy diet in Africa because vegetables were hard to find, and we didn’t have a kitchen. I was eating lots of bread which I hardly eat at home, fried food, and salt, with minimal veggies and clean water. I even brought green veggie powder and multivitamins, which probably saved me from complete lunacy…but it still wasn’t enough.

I also had beer or wine almost every night, because it felt sooooo good after traveling in the heat, and after all, I was on vacation! I had to sit on trains and busses and the back of pickup trucks for 8-13 hours a day, many days in a row. I didn’t run because it would be between 90-120 degrees out on many days. I did yoga some mornings, but not most.

I was taking one antibiotic tablet a day to prevent malaria and I had taken de-worming medications after working at the refugee camp, so I am sure my body was thrown by all that too (but less so than it would have been with worms! Yuck!).

I hadn’t slept well for many nights because of the heat and the early bus/train schedules. I had to unpack and re-pack every day. We stayed in one place for more than one night four times in almost three months. Then when we got back, it was the Holidays, and my jet lag was waking me up at 2 or 3am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with nowhere to go.

My soul was having a hard time catching up to me. And that’s an understatement.

The more I coach and the more I work in healthcare (over 14+ years now!), I realize how mood is affected by how healthy we are. We can blame feeling pissy on so many things, like “lame people” or “the government” or the elusive, “they.” Yet I have found that when we are healthy, we make better choices (which leads to happier results), and can flow much more readily and steadily with life’s bumps without getting rocked so hard. And getting bitchy.

I immediately booked a massage with my favorite therapist the day after Christmas. I went to yoga everyday during lunch. I listened to meditation sessions on my iPhone.  I tried to sleep more every night, although jet lag was working hard against me on that one. I reluctantly unscheduled some visits with people I cared about.

I did these things even though it meant I was missing out on time with my family and friends. I’d rather be pleasant when I WAS around them than not do what it takes to feel balanced and have all this free time to be a bitch with them.

I signed up AHEAD OF TIME for two weeks of yoga classes in Alaska to start the day after we got back. I didn’t schedule anything for two weeks so I could focus on my Freedom Sessions Mastermind group that I am going to launch the second week of January (stay tuned!). I asked my partner to make sure I refrained from processed foods and meat, and that if I did eat meat, I wanted it to be wild game or organic. He agreed.

I launched into a cleanse too, eliminating alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, meat, processed foods, unfermented soy and adding IN more fresh veggies, green juices, and other foods bursting with energy. Making these nutritional changes made the quickest difference of all the above. We are what we eat!

I moved back towards my center, I started feeling more balanced way faster than the time it took to get this unbalanced in the first place, and I was able to hug my mom when she “should-ed” all over me, because that’s what moms are for;)

I felt SPACE, I felt less anxiety, I felt relaxed, patient, kind, generous. All from coming back to center, honoring my needs, and leading a healthier lifestyle.

So you see, it wasn’t my mom’s fault at all. She was being herself, and whether it bothered me or not, I was reacting a certain way because of where I was at.

I learned that I floated a little away from what I always tell my clients: pick your top 3-6 things that you want to prioritize. Everything else fits AROUND those things.

In the end, this comes down to self-love. When we practice self-love, we have more to give to others.
What are your top three to six non-negotiables when it comes to nurturing and loving on yourself? Mine (for now) are:

1) regular exercise (for me that is a combination of some kind of cardio in the outdoors, and yoga)
2) good sleep (7-8 hours a night)
3) healthy food and drink
4) quality time with my close friends and family
5) quality alone time for myself (at least a half-day a week) – meditation falls under this
6) time to create for Freedom Junkie

I am open to that list changing, and I may even create one with more concrete details for each week or month (like making sure I get in three yoga sessions, ski twoFull On 365 days, launch Freedom Sessions, etc…). It is so easy to get overwhelmed, and I find knowing your priorities will help with sifting through the shizzle.

PS: If you are interested in creating a healthier and more balanced YOU in 2013, stay tuned for Life Aligned – an upcoming 6-month health and wellness program where we will get your body – and life – aligned with your dreams!

Note: Ana Neff is a personal life and health coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting FreedomJunkie.com

Days 275 to 303 Why “This Is LIFE!” Should Be Your New Mantra – News from Southern Africa

“I think all these little brown dots on the ground are…some kind of poo,” I suggest. Well, according to Thai’s imitation, I actually sounded like a grandma inspecting her kitchen for dirt with a white glove. “YOU have a look then!” I say to him. He gets down on his knees with my headlamp and after a few minutes of inspection, he uses a common medical phrase, “I’m afraid I can’t rule it out.”

Meaning he also thought the ground might actually be covered with poo (and I mean carpeted, not “dotted with”). More correctly, it meant that he couldn’t say what it was – or wasn’t.

I paused and took an “inner inventory of options,” if you will. The whole area in this section of the Kalahari desert we were camping in was truly covered with this stuff. Thousands of little bushes surrounded us that could hide little “poo machines” like desert shrew and what not.

I realized I had to be OK with camping in a carpeted world of little African rodent crap. And FYI: rodents are some of the main vectors for the more serious tropical diseases we were treating in the refugee camps.

I proceeded to set up the tent over the carpet of whatever-it-was.

This is Africa, baby. Deal with it.

Then I’m driving through Botswana and a little grouse walks in front of us on the highway. I toot the least-threatening-horn-ever of our trusted VW “Springbok,” and she takes flight. I sigh, relieved…Only to watch her get slammed by a speeding truck coming in the other direction. Feathers everywhere. Tears well up in my eyes. I reach for Thai’s hand for reassurance that it was a swift death, and I suck it up. Well, I let the tears well up a little longer, then I suck it up.

This is Africa, baby. T.I.A. Deal with it. At least it wasn’t a donkey or a cow.

I get a fast and furious GI illness that takes me out for a few hours. I’m puking my insides out. People are frolicking by the pool. Dancing at the bar. Thai tries to get a room for me but reception is closed. We’re camping. Far away from the porcelain basins. Thai brings my sleeping pad next to the bathroom doors and I sleep there for awhile. Happy drunk girls wander around me without thinking twice. Happy drunk boys walk past with stupid thoughts and continue on. I am thrilled to be so close to my new porcelain friends. The bar manager asks if we’d like to move our tent next to the bathrooms. Why, Yes! THANK YOU! We do.


Alright. Let’s talk about this phrase I hear a lot here: “This is Africa” or “TIA.” When shit happens here, people usually do one of two things:

1) get pissed and be pissed in the heat with no subsequent change in the outcome or…

2) shrug it off, sigh, smile, and say – with a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood – “This is Africa!” Then let it go, and buy a beer. Likely, you will then wait (many of the frustrations involve waiting and waiting and waiting…).

Why is this letting go something that so many people are so willing to do here, but are so UNwilling to do back in their home countries? I mean, this is kind of huge, in my mind.

Do you realize HOW MUCH HAPPIER we’d be if we could say, for example, “This is life!” Or “Shit happens ha ha ha!!!” then let go, and get on with being and living?!! It would be amazing!

I realize that what I’m talking about is, on some level, deep spiritual work, and it takes time and energy. We need to become aware of our attachments and expectations, our sense of entitlement, our excuses based on our “wounds.”

Then we need to develop the space between the thoughts and emotions and actions to allow a different response (meditation and yoga are my fave ways of cultivating this).

Then we need to stop ruminating about what could have or should have been, stop replaying the suffering (trust me – the poor bird ran many reels of movie-time through my head after that event), stop daydreaming about what might have been, and get the fuck on with our lives!

We need to learn to OWN IT and ROCK IT. Focus on what we want. Not on what we don’t want.

So yes, it is, on some level, deep spiritual work.

But it is also something simple: a CHOICE. This I what happens in Africa. Many of us simply
choose to simply let go. Life is better – and more effortless – that way.

What is happening RIGHT NOW? That’s what you should be focused on. Nothing else. Not on your expectations or past dreams. CHOOSE to let things go, and focus on the things you CAN work with.

One of my favorite quotes is:

“If you CAN change something, why be unhappy? If you CAN’T change setting, why be unhappy?” ~ Shantideva, A Bodhisattva’s Guide to The Way of Life

Suffering in Africa is no less intense than in the “Western world” (and many would argue it is even moreso). Contrary to popular belief, people here are no less sensitive to suffering, either. I also don’t think they are necessarily more “spiritually evolved” when it comes to non-attachment.

So why, here in Africa, are locals and expatriots and travelers able to let go so much more readily? (Caveat: if you are not prone to this adaptation, you’d likely avoid Africa altogether anyway).

I believe the difference is a keen understanding of the above statement: Knowing the difference between what you can and cannot change. Here in Africa, it is much easier to make that distinction. And while it can be terribly frustrating, it can be quite a relief, actually.

I remember after many trips to Asia when I was working as a climbing guide, I walked into a supermarket in the US to buy toothpaste after returning home, and I was completely overwhelmed by the ENTIRE ISLE of choices: With baking soda or without? Tatar control? Fluoride? Mint or peppermint? Gel or paste? I mean, WTF, right?! In Nepal I’d ask for toothpaste and get handed a tube over the counter. That was IT. Take it or leave it. It’s the only toothpaste they had. I rather miss that sometimes. I have more important things to ponder. I’m sure you do too!

Things are similar in many parts of Africa. The bus will leave when it leaves, no matter what the schedule says.

Animals will get hit regularly on the the side of the road, because people have cattle that need to graze, and there is grass along the roadway, and one-lane highways.

You have to pay a guy a few cents to make sure your car doesn’t get broken into. While thuggish himself, he’s part of a street-wise system way larger than you or your desire to save a few cents or sense of self-righteousness about the way things should work.

You don’t know your car’s “engine number” for the border crossing? They don’t care that they didn’t ask at the other border when you came in. Find the engine number. Whatever that is.

You see, it’s easier to see what you can and can’t change here. We are all in it together.

In the US, I observe – and admittedly found myself a part of – a sense of entitlement, of how if we yell loud enough, or show the right small print, or tell a really good version of our personal tragic story, we’ll eventually get what we want (and in our minds, what we deserve).

It’s true that some of these things protect us and keep things running efficiently. I am grateful for those aspects of it.

However, we need to keep in mind that the unintended result of this is that we have, as a society, become less adept at letting go of the small stuff. We are less skilled at quickly putting things into perspective, and not trying to control the things we cannot change. And it IS a skill. (pssst: we teach these Jedi Skills at Freedom Junkie;)

Next time shit happens – and try to start with the small stuff, like when the food that gets brought to your table is not exactly what you ordered, or when your friend is 15 minutes late – try out T.I.L. “This Is Life!” It’s happening right now. It’s perfectly imperfect! Live it! Don’t screw it all up with ideas of how it should have been!

Things are much more fun this way;)

What are you choosing to let go of today? Or what have you already chosen to let go of already? (And by the way, Bravo, Badass!). Do share below…I want to know!

PS: the little dots were not poo. In the light of day, we could see they were seeds from the surrounding trees:) Poo Trees, I’ve decided to call them

PPS: for those wanting in on the other full-on adventures since my last post, they include:

* Hiking through the deep red sand dunes of Soussvlei in Namibia

* Being awe-struck by the stark vastness of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

* Spotting lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffe, and more at Etosha National Park

* Visiting the majestic Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

* Chobe National Park morning game drive and sunset river boat cruise to see hippos, crocodiles, and more lions rarrrrrrr! (Botswana)

* A tree fell on Springbok in a big Botswanan storm and she survived unscathed! Amazing!

* Romantic and beautiful nights and days of camping in Botswana’s Okavango Delta after lazy rocking mokoro travel through the delta (where a wonderful man named BT took us in his dug-out canoe through the reed pathways, using his pole to navigate the waters (and hippos!). If you want a guide’s number for the Okavango, he’s awesome and you’ll save LOTS of money booking directly. Email me!

* and proposal update: add on Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia to the list! So many good stories about those moments:)

* there are more, but those will have to wait for when I don’t have to thumb type! Thank you for your patience:)

Now we’re back in South Africa after having just crossed the border from Botswana border in our trusty VW Polo (aka “Springbok”). It will be sad to leave her. Her maiden voyage has been quite epic to be a part of!

We head to the Quirimbas Archipelago in northern Mozambique tomorrow morning. Beach time!!!!! Yay!!! We plan to sail and dive off the traditional dhows there. Hopefully we can find one to charter that we can afford!!!???

For more photos, please friend me on Facebook if you haven’t yet and check out pics here. There are a few videos on my YouTube channel too.

Below are pictures of me with a Himba woman in Namibia (she was a midwife too so we had some nice chats. When I told her some peeps in the states ate their placenta she gagged then spit LOL), Springbok at camp on the Skeleton Coast, the red dunes of Soussvlei, and the mokoro in the Okavango Delta.

Be free, fellow Freedom Junkies!

Remember: the world responds to ACTION, so get out there and DO something differently to move you closer towards your freedom!!!! I’m rooting for you;)